Is Seasteading the High Seas a Legal Possibility? Filling the Gaps in International Sovereignty Law

Seasteading––homesteading of the modern era––is a desire to develop above-water settlements in international waters known as seasteads. Once a fleeting dream, seasteading has entered the realm of possibility with the technological advancements and financial contributions of The Seasteading Institute (TSI). TSI’s ultimate goal is ambitious: to establish permanent seasteads as sovereign states recognized by the United States and eventually by other members of the United Nations. Because international law promulgated by the United Nations addresses only state actors and TSI is a nonstate actor, this Note argues that international law does not prohibit the seastead communities from merely existing in international waters before they pursue their ambitions for international recognition. Whether a community is recognized as a sovereignty depends in large part on sociopolitical decisions of current nations. As such, the laws governing state sovereignty are secondary to the public policies of various nations. Considering historical practice and what guidance international law does provide, this Note concludes that the United States will recognize seasteads as envisioned by TSI in their ultimate state.

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